A novel modality for real-time measurement of provider happiness

JAMIA Open. 2022 Feb 24;5(1):ooac009. doi: 10.1093/jamiaopen/ooac009. eCollection 2022 Apr.


Objective: Physician burnout is at epidemic proportions, impacts clinical outcomes, and is very costly. Although there is emerging data about effective interventions, most physicians at risk of burnout do not seek help. Survey-based measures exist which can quantify burnout within populations, but these are usually only administered episodically. We hypothesized that a novel modality for real-time measurement of happiness and stressors would be acceptable, scalable, and could provide new actionable insights.

Materials: We developed a novel informatics system consisting of a networked smart button device, server, and analytics for measuring happiness, and stressors in real-time during clinical work. We performed an observational cohort study in 3 primary care clinics. Random and fixed effects modeling was used to analyze predictors of stress and happiness and we conducted a survey of usability and user acceptance of the novel system.

Results: We captured 455 recordings across 392 provider days from 14 primary care providers. In total, 85% of users found the device easy to use, and 87% would recommend the system to their colleagues. Happiness and stressors were observed in all working hours of the day, with a 22% reduction in feeling (the proportion of happiness to stressors) across a clinical day.

Discussion: We tested a novel system which providers found easy to use and enabled collection of detailed data. Limitations included being an observational study within a small number of clinics. A simple, unintrusive, scalable informatics system capable of measuring happiness, and stressors in real-time could be useful to healthcare organizations and teams.

Keywords: burnout; healthcare provider; measurement; quality of healthcare.